In the modern world it seems that many people in society constantly subject themselves to the pitfalls of repetition. It is said that insanity is the act of doing something over and over again, yet expecting the result to change, and this theory rings true when and in-depth analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire is taken, from both Tennessee Williams' 1947 literary and Elia Kazan's 1951 cinematic versions. Many of the characters in the play/film become frustrated, as with Stanley, fed up, like Stella, or literally insane as Blanche did, because of their refusal to change the patterns and habits of their life.
What makes Streetcar poignant and relevant to today's society is not just the sexual promiscuity that Blanche (Vivien Leigh on screen) exhibited, but the underlying violence that accompanied life in the Kowalski home. Nowadays society and the media are bombarded to the point of complete permeation by the effects of sexual promiscuity and domestic violence. Arrest rates have increased; single families are steadily becoming the norm; and, just as with Blanche, mental anguish and psychological breakdown is taking its toll on the minds of the world. The devastation of it all is that these effects, which ripple across the surface of society, are being caused, just like in Streetcar by the conscience decisions of fools week enough not to say no, and allow the insanity of repetition to dig its claws into their souls and drag them into the dark realm of the psychological abyss.
Stella (Kim Hunter in the film) one day decided she desired a change from the monotony and possible maddening decadence of the world in which she was raised. Unlike Blanche, she wanted reality to surround her, even if it meant financial inferiority when compared to the home in which she grew up. She found a man, fell in love and began her life anew. There is passion between Stella and Stanley (Marlon Brando in the movie); the ring of desire, just like the streetcar, is frequent and repetitive; yet the passion emitted is not always sexual; at times it erupts in a fit of violence and frustration, mostly by the hands of Stanley, and especially when he has been drinking; and what a ravenous fuel alcohol can be. Once drunk, Stanley, in the midst of a fit of irritation, roots back to the brute that resides and festers under the shallow surface of his skin. He becomes violent, thrashing around the home destroying his own property, and frightening his wife into her own eruption of frustration, culminating with tears and seemingly triumphant march up the stairs to the neighbors/friends above.
Blanche has run, yet has been unable to truly evade the person within that she had become. She does exhibit restraint, amongst people like Harold Mitchell (Mitch) (Karl Malden in the movie); yet, when faced with strangers, such as the youthful collector, her veil of respectability begins to fall; and her promiscuity shines through. She has thought she could hide, but her own conscience decisions continue to haunt her. Some might say that Blanche's aura propels her, carrying her forward to the destiny that waits within the bed with Stanley, despite her distaste for the forthcoming ramifications from Stanley's forceful nature. The cycle for Blanche concludes with a final and appropriate comment as the doctor leads her away, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." The only difference is this time there might be a chance for some sort of redemption. Unlike the strangers from her past, the doctor's "kindness" is not selfish in nature; he requires nothing for himself and can provide everything for her, an escape form the partially self-imposed insanity from past debauchery.